Event 39 – Eton 5km Swim

Beautiful Dorney Lake

Another week, another 5km – this time though it was a swim and wouldn’t take 28 minutes!

As the event was at Eton Dorney lake near Windsor we decided to make it into a mini break.  We being me and my sister Adi.  We had booked to do this swim last year but then Adi got ill and ended up in hospital having an operation. I still went and did the 3km distance, but my heart wasn’t in it.

Adi is now fully recovered and back to fitness so we booked it again.  Hoping that unlike some of our other events this year it wouldn’t be cancelled.  Edinburgh HM – thank you  Easyjet and the Dart Aquathlon – lack of numbers.  We brought our trainers just in case – there is always a parkrun 🙂

But all went to plan and we set off on Friday night for our hotel.  Just over five hours later we arrived….it should have taken two and a half!  The same thing happened to me last weekend when I went to Coventry, another 5 hour journey that should have been half the time.  Grrrr…holiday traffic.  The endurance part of this year is turning out to be the driving…not the events!

Adi changing rooms in her PJs

Finally we arrived at our hotel and after a change of room due to me being nearly electrocuted by a bedside lamp we finally settled down for the night around 10pm…the new room was an upgrade though and the bathrobes were very nice 🙂

In the morning we were very glad that we had made the effort to get there the night before despite the horrid traffic as now we only had a few miles to drive to Dorney Lake and left at a very reasonable 7.45am. By 8.15 we were parked and in line to register.

I’ve done lots of events here and it was nice to be some where familiar – my last time was a only a few weeks ago for the Banana Man triathlon.  It was also nice to only have my swim gear and not a bike and run stuff.  Much less faff.

By the time we had got our timing chip, yellow hat for the 5km distance and numbers written on our hands it was nearly time to swim.  We got ready  as quickly as we could… slowed down somewhat by Adi’s attempts to get in her wetsuit and me laughing at her 🙂  I think she’s getting a new one which hopefully she can breath in and get in out of easily lol!

Ready to swim

Our wave was at 9.30am, the last wave and just after the 10km swimmers.  I was so pleased to not be swimming 10km today.  Adi and I have done 10km before in the river Dart and it’s a long way.  In fact my friend Sally was doing the Dart 10km on the same day and I thought of her often as I swam along….”thank goodness it’s not 10k, thank goodness it’s not 10km…:-) ”   Having said that, the conditions were perfect for distance swimming, warm weather, warm water – 20C and no wind…the best I have ever seen it at Eton where usually there is a fierce cross wind.  Still, 5km is long enough.

It’s a fairly small event – maybe 50 people in our 5km wave.  The other waves for the other distances looked similar.  I guess not many people want to swim that far. It had a very different vibe from a triathlon where most people are very worried about the swim and you often hear people saying things like…”I’ve never swam in open water” or “this is only the second time I’ve swum in my wetsuit”  seriously, I’ve heard these things.  They just want to get the swim done and get onto the bit they like…the bike and run.    Here, although I’m sure there were many triathletes they were also swimmers and no one seemed bothered at all by a 5km swim.  It was very relaxed.

We swam each side of this bank

After a quick safety briefing we headed into the water.  It was rolling start, so again very relaxed no pushing and shoving – everyone just walking slowly over the timing mat into the water.  Unlike other events here we would be swimming almost the whole length of the lake, instead of around and around a short circuit of buoys.  It was much nicer.  All the way up the lake, under a little bridge and down the other side of bank into a filter stream – at least I think that’s what they called it.  Anyhoo, we swam back down some water that wasn’t the proper lake bit.  Despite many visits here I hadn’t really noticed this bit of water, or at least not realised that it was slightly separate from the main lake.  Guess I’m usually whizzing by on a bike or swimming round and round the buoys on the other side.

The water was lovely and there was plenty of space to swim.  The course was easy, straight up, under the bridge and straight down…. and repeat, there were also two feed stations – for a little break if you needed it.  We had left our nutrition at one of them earlier and it was nice to see your own drink waiting for you.  We also left some jelly babies as Adi thought they would be nice.  Turns out she can’t eat and swim and I think there may be a red jelly baby still floating around in Dorney Lake!  Or maybe anther swimmer ended up with one stuck to the front of their cap lol!

The 10k swimmers still swimming and weather turning

Adi had left me within a minute of us getting in the water, she is much faster than me.  I wanted to take it fairly easy… it’s my first big swim since the Ironman and I haven’t been in the pool much in-between, partly due to fatigue but mainly lack of motivation.  I felt like this after my last Ironman so wasn’t surprised.  Although I was a bit worried about the distance I was fairly sure I could make it especially with the option to stop at the feed stations if I needed to.  In the end I probably only stopped for a minute at each one…mainly for a wee, which is much easier when you aren’t moving!  Too much information….sorry!

I loved this swim, not just because it was in a lovely lake, not just because I got to do it with Adi and not just because it was 5km and not 10km.  I loved this swim because I didn’t have to cycle 112 miles and run a marathon straight afterwards.  I could just get out…….and…….nothing 🙂   I smiled about this all the way round, trying not to swallow water as I did lol!

What a sight!

One hour and 52 minutes later I had finished and Adi was there waiting for me having finished over ten minutes earlier.  She was already in her long towelling robe (it’s one off those that you get changed under) eating the nice food they provided.  The volunteers were lovely and encouraged us to eat cakes and have a hot drink.  Despite the nice weather and warm water you still get quite cold after a long distance.  Adi got my swim robe for me and we hung around for a bit.  We were the only people wearing such things and I think we looked quite a sight, but we didn’t care especially as we were warm.

Those low flying planes must drive Liz mad!

Then back to the hotel for a shower and change.  We were staying for a second night – it was a mini break after all – and so we went out for the afternoon to Windsor Castle, something we’ve been meaning to do a while, in fact since a swim in the Thames, again near Windsor a couple of years ago.  “we must go to Windsor Castle one day” we said….  so we did, and it was great fun 🙂


We finished the day with a hotel picnic of cheese and biscuits and prosecco and watched Stictly Come Dancing in our bathrobes.  Perfect end to the perfect day.

Event 39 done.





3 thoughts on “Event 39 – Eton 5km Swim”

  1. Love, love, love your race reports! What a perfect weekend with your sister! Did you have tea with the Queen then? 😉

    Hugs to you & Adi!


  2. Wow – nearly 80% done of your events and oodles of time left. Legend. And Eton Dorney reminds me of our wee tri in ’14. Good luck for the remaining 11 – star!


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